Semantic Roles

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semantics roles

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Semantic Roles

  1. 1. What is a semantic role?
  2. 2. A semantic role is the underlying relationship that a participant has with the main verb in a clause . Also known as: Semantic case, thematic role.
  3. 3. <ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>If, in some real or imagined situation, someone named John purposely hits someone named Bill, then John is the agent and Bill is the patient of the hitting event. Therefore, the semantic role of Bill is the same (patient) in both of the following sentences: </li></ul><ul><li>John hit Bill. </li></ul><ul><li>Bill was hit by John. </li></ul><ul><li>In both of the above sentences, John has the semantic role of agent. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Grammatical relations ( subject, object, oblique …) are morphosyntactic, whereas semantic roles ( agent, patient, instrument …) are conceptual notions . Semantic roles do not correspond directly to grammatical relations. Notice what varying semantic roles a subject can play:   Sentence Grammatical relation Semantic role Bob opened the door with a key. Bob = SUBJECT Bob = AGENT The key opened the door. The key = SUBJECT The key = INSTRUMENT The door opened. The door = SUBJECT The door = PATIENT
  5. 5. What is patient as a semantic role? <ul><li>  Also known as: affected, undergoer </li></ul><ul><li>  Longacre 1983 defines a patient as the entity  </li></ul><ul><li>undergoing a change of state or location, or </li></ul><ul><li>which is possessed, acquired or exchanged. </li></ul><ul><li>  Larson 1984 defines the affected role as the  </li></ul><ul><li>thing that is affected by an event </li></ul><ul><li>person or thing that undergoes a process, or </li></ul><ul><li>person who experiences an event. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Examples <ul><li>The entity predicated with a state or location: </li></ul><ul><li>The door is open. </li></ul><ul><li>John is at home. </li></ul><ul><li>The entity undergoing a change of state or location: </li></ul><ul><li>He opened the door. </li></ul><ul><li>The door swung open. </li></ul><ul><li>He threw the ball across the yard. </li></ul><ul><li>The ball rolled off the table. </li></ul>
  7. 7. More examples… <ul><li>The entity which is possessed, acquired, or exchanged: </li></ul><ul><li>John has a new book . </li></ul><ul><li>John bought a new book. </li></ul><ul><li>John gave Mary a new book . </li></ul>
  8. 8. More examples… <ul><li>The thing that is affected by an event: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The dog ate the meat. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The tree fell on the house. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The person or thing that undergoes a process: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The water evaporated. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mary became sad. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. What is a beneficiary as a semantic role? A beneficiary is the semantic role of a referent which is advantaged or disadvantaged by an event. Ex: John helped Susan to buy her first car.
  10. 10. What is causer as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition  Causer is the semantic role of the referent which instigates an event rather than actually doing it. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex: The rain destroyed the crops. </li></ul>
  11. 11. What is experiencer as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition  Experiencer is the semantic role of an entity (or referent ) which   </li></ul><ul><li>receives </li></ul><ul><li>accepts </li></ul><ul><li>experiences, or </li></ul><ul><li>undergoes the effect of an action. </li></ul><ul><li>Normally an experiencer is an entity that receives a sensory impression, or in some other way is the locus of some event or activity that involves neither volition nor a change of state. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>Lucretia saw the bicycle. </li></ul><ul><li>It was Bill who smelled the bacon first. </li></ul><ul><li>The explosion was heard by everyone. </li></ul>
  12. 12. What is goal as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition:  Goal is the semantic role of the  </li></ul><ul><li>place to which something moves, or </li></ul><ul><li>thing toward which an action is directed. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>John swam to the raft. </li></ul><ul><li>He studied for the test . </li></ul>
  13. 13. What is instrument as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition  Instrument is the semantic role of an inanimate thing that an agent uses to implement an event. It is the stimulus or immediate physical cause of an event. </li></ul><ul><li>  Instrument words are usually nouns occurring in the noun phrase of a clause: </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Someone cut the bread with a knife . </li></ul>
  14. 14. What is locative as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition  Locative is a semantic role which identifies the location or spatial orientation of a state or action. A locative semantic role does not imply motion to, from, or across the location. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>The paper is in the folder. </li></ul><ul><li>The ship sank at sea. </li></ul>
  15. 15. What is manner as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition  Manner is a semantic role that notes how the action, experience, or process of an event is carried out. </li></ul><ul><li>Example (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>The girl walked to school slowly. </li></ul>
  16. 16. What is measure as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition  Measure is a semantic role which notes the quantification of an event. </li></ul><ul><li>Example (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>The new coat costs $70. </li></ul>
  17. 17. What is a path? <ul><li>Definition  Path is the semantic role describing motion or propulsion predications . </li></ul><ul><li>Example (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>The baby crawled across the room. </li></ul>
  18. 18. What is source as a semantic role? <ul><li>Source is the semantic role of the following referents:   </li></ul><ul><li>The place of origin (with verbs of motion, locomotion, and propulsion) </li></ul><ul><li>The entity from which a physical sensation emanates (with verbs of sensation, attention, and speech) </li></ul><ul><li>The original owner in a transfer (with verbs of acquisition, transfer, and grab) </li></ul><ul><li>Examples (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>As the place of origin: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>John fell off the chair . ( with a motion verb) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The baby crawled from the kitchen to the door. (with a locomotion verb) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>John picked up the knife from the box . (with a propulsion verb) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. More examples: <ul><li>As the entity from which a physical sensation emanates: </li></ul><ul><li>John smelled the odor of onions. (with a sensation verb) </li></ul><ul><li>The people watched the performance of the dancers . (with an attention verb) </li></ul><ul><li>The mother told her child a story. (with a speech verb) With speech verbs, the source is coreferential with the agent </li></ul>
  20. 20. More examples: <ul><li>As the original owner in a transfer : </li></ul><ul><li>John obtained an application form from the office . (with an acquisition verb) </li></ul><ul><li>John bought the book from Tom. (with a transfer verb) </li></ul><ul><li>John grabbed the book from Tom. (with a grab verb) </li></ul>
  21. 21. What is time as a semantic role? <ul><li>Definition  Time is the semantic role of the temporal placement of an event. </li></ul><ul><li>Example (English)   </li></ul><ul><li>The whistle will sound at noon . </li></ul>
  22. 22. Committative <ul><li>I did the homework with my son. </li></ul><ul><li>(It refers to someone else who does an action with the agent) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Semantic Roles Agen t: The ‘doer’ or instigator of the action denoted by the predicate. Patient : The ‘undergoer’ of the action or event denoted by the predicate. Theme: The entity that is moved by the action or event denoted by the predicate. Experiencer : The living entity that experiences the action or event denoted by the predicate. Goal : The location or entity in the direction of which something moves. Benefactive : The entity that benefits from the action or event denoted by the predicate. Source: The location or entity from which something moves Instrument : The medium by which the action or event denoted by the predicate is carried out. Locative : The specification of the place where the action or event denoted by the predicate in situated. (Aarts 1997: 88)
  24. 24. Examples: Theme (or Patient): Entity undergoing the effect of some action.      ( Mary is happy ) Agent: Instigator of some action.     ( John killed Harry) Experiencer : Entity experiencing some psychological state.      ( John smelled her perfume ) Goal: Entity towards which something moves.      (John went home )

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